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Smart Thermostats: A worthwhile investment?

If you don’t have some kind of programmable thermostat for your home, you’re really missing out: For a minimal investment, you can save more than 10 percent on your annual heating and cooling bills by not paying to heat or cool your home when no one is home.

But programmable thermostats are evolving quickly — and now, as with pretty much any electronic gear these days — cell phone technology has gotten into the game, making today’s thermostats smarter than ever.

The question is whether it’s worth the money and effort to switch to or install a smart thermostat?

How does a smart thermostat work?

Thermostats basically come in three classes: basic, programmable and smart. Basic thermostats simply control your heating and AC systems, allowing you to manually adjust temperatures at the flick of a switch. Programmable thermostats take things a step further by allowing you to set temperatures changes throughout the day.

But smart thermostats do something more: They learn. Based on your behaviors, a smart thermostat will change temperatures automatically when you leave the house for work, go to school or do anything else routinely.

Some are so smart, in fact, that they’ll calculate how long it will take to heat or cool your home, then back-count from the time you’ll arrive home so you’ll be comfy the moment you walk in the door. Still others will allow you to control temperatures (and even humidity, if you have a whole-house humidifier or dehumidifier) via your cell phone (yes, there’s an app for that).

Brands and prices

New smart thermostats seem to be popping up every month, but several brands and models are clear leaders of the pack. Some of the more established candidates include the Nest Thermostat and several models by Ecobee and Honeywell. Prices on these smart thermostats range from $200–$500 depending on features — although some require professional installation, which bumps up the overall price substantially.

The bottom line: Should I invest in a smart thermostat?

Possibly, if:

  1. You don’t have a programmable thermostat already — If you already have a programmable thermostat that you know how to use, you probably won’t save much more money with a smart system. If you don’t have a programmable thermostat of some kind, get one right away. It’s a great way to save money!
  2. You install it yourself — Fortunately, a model like the Nest is pretty easy to install. Check out YouTube for some detailed instructions or give Majka Oil a call. We will be happy to guide you through the installation.
  3. You’re in your home for the long haul — If you’re planning to flip your house, or if you’re a renter, it’s probably not worth switching to a smart system. If you’re going to stay around awhile, it’s definitely worth considering.